Immune Checkpoint Inhibitors for Solid Tumors in the Adjuvant Setting: Current Progress, Future Directions, and Role in Transplant Oncology

Karen Abboud, Godsfavour Umoru, Abdullah Esmail, Ala Abudayyeh, Naoka Murakami, Humaid O. Al-Shamsi, Milind Javle, Ashish Saharia, Ashton A. Connor, Sudha Kodali, Rafik M. Ghobrial, Maen Abdelrahim

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


The rationale for administering immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICIs) in the adjuvant setting is to eradicate micro-metastases and, ultimately, prolong survival. Thus far, clinical trials have demonstrated that 1-year adjuvant courses of ICIs reduce the risk of recurrence in melanoma, urothelial cancer, renal cell carcinoma, non-small cell lung cancer, and esophageal and gastroesophageal junction cancers. Overall survival benefit has been shown in melanoma while survival data are still not mature in other malignancies. Emerging data also show the feasibility of utilizing ICIs in the peri-transplant setting for hepatobiliary malignancies. While ICIs are generally well-tolerated, the development of chronic immune-related adverse events, typically endocrinopathies or neurotoxicities, as well as delayed immune-related adverse events, warrants further scrutiny regarding the optimal duration of adjuvant therapy and requires a thorough risk–benefit determination. The advent of blood-based, dynamic biomarkers such as circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA) can help detect minimal residual disease and identify the subset of patients who would likely benefit from adjuvant treatment. In addition, the characterization of tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes, neutrophil-to-lymphocyte ratio, and ctDNA-adjusted blood tumor mutation burden (bTMB) has also shown promise in predicting response to immunotherapy. Until additional, prospective studies delineate the magnitude of overall survival benefit and validate the use of predictive biomarkers, a tailored, patient-centered approach to adjuvant ICIs that includes extensive patient counseling on potentially irreversible adverse effects should be routinely incorporated into clinical practice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1433
Issue number5
StatePublished - Feb 23 2023


  • adjuvant immunotherapy
  • adverse effects
  • disease-free survival
  • overall survival
  • predictive biomarkers

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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